Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New decision on time to contest a will; paternity action in probate court; and business partners as PRs

In Estate of Dickson, announced today, the Oklahoma Supreme Court addressed several interesting topics regarding probate procedure:

  • The Court attempted to resolve the inconsistency between 58 O.S. 61 and 58 O.S. 242 regarding the time to contest a will.  In this instance, the issue turned on the fact that the contestant had been involved in the proceedings since before the will was admitted, and as a result had the benefit of the greater, 90 day period provided by 58 O.S. 242.  Apparently, if the pretermitted heir had not appeared at all prior to contesting the will, the lesser, 60 day period would have been applied.  The decision also addressed the form of the objection, holding that substance controls over form in determining whether a will contest has been made.
  • The Court held that the Oklahoma paternity statute, 84 O.S. 215 allows a judicial determination of paternity to be brought and prosecuted as part of a probate proceeding.  Section 215 does not require a pre-death adjudication of paternity.  As a result, a person claiming status of heir can seek posthumous DNA testing during probate proceedings.
  • The Court addressed whether a business partner can serve as PR of a probate estate, in light of the prohibition found in 58 O.S. 122.  The Court held that a business partner can serve as PR only if designated in a will.

The decision can be found here: http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=464827